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Airmen deliver aid to refugees in northern Iraq

  • Published
  • By Maj. Wayne Capps
  • 315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, GERMANY -- Reservists from the 315th Airlift Wing delivered humanitarian aid bound for refugee camps in northern Iraq this weekend while also conducting a multifaceted training mission. 

“From a big picture stand point, even though the Reserve crews are training to stay proficient, we were able to help Kurdish refugees who were fleeing ISIS,” said Master Sgt. Chris Fabel, 315th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief stationed at Joint Base Charleston. “Sometimes these missions can be hard and keeping current can be a pain, but we have to keep in mind that while we were doing that, we are helping a lot of people in need,” said Fabel. “We all feel a sense of accomplishment on these missions.”

The humanitarian aid was flown using the Denton Amendment, a State Department and USAID Program that allows humanitarian supplies to be flown aboard U.S. Air Force aircraft on a space available basis.

According to the Denton cargo application, Global Samaritan Resources, a nonprofit corporation located in Abilene, Texas, donated 35 pallets, containing more than 275,000 dehydrated rice soy casserole meals intended for the refugees.

“Our mission is simple, yet significant; we help people help people,” said Danny Sims, executive director of Global Samaritan Resources. “It makes me proud as a U.S. citizen to know we are sending food, and proud to know that the U.S. Air Force is delivering it.”

The donated meals, worth approximately $85,000, will feed an estimated 285,000 Kurdish men, women, and children who have fled ISIS controlled areas and are currently living in refugee camps in northern Iraq.

The mission was difficult, yet rewarding, according to Tech. Sgt. Brian Farmintino, one of the loadmasters from the 300th Airlift Squadron who was on the mission.

“Personally, I love flying these types of missions,” said Farmintino. “They really show the flexibility of our wing. We combined a training mission with evaluations and an instructional ride with a real-world humanitarian mission and added an aeromedical evacuation trainer on top of that.”

The dehydrated food was delivered to Germany by the 315th AW and will be flown later to Iraq, and trucked to Barzani for distribution throughout the refugee camps in that area.

When asked about the importance of helping those in need, Sims said it was the most important and most gratifying part of his life.

“I believe pretty much everyone wants to help someone else, it’s written in our DNA,” he said. "But regardless, we all understand the beauty of helping people. That is something that transcends our differences and brings us together. It is a beautiful thing!”